In a survey of U.S. businesses, product review platform provider Digital.com found that the pandemic has transformed offices across the country with many remaining permanently closed.
“Not long after the COVID-19 pandemic sent employees scattering to home offices and remote locations so companies could continue operating while minimizing exposure to the deadly virus, speculation exploded about what this temporary change would mean for the future of how Americans work,” authors of the report said. “Now, the future is here, and it appears that some things have changed for good.”
A survey of 1,250 businesses that had on-site employees prior to the pandemic found that many now have “a significant portion” of workers working remotely while closing “some or all of their office space, primarily as a result of employees wanting to continue working remotely.”
The survey revealed that 69 percent of businesses in the U.S. have “permanently closed some or all of their office spaces since March 2020” while 37 percent have permanently closed all of their office space. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they expect to close some or all of their office space in the next six months. “A majority of employees wanting to work from home” was the top reason why businesses have permanently closed office spaces.
The research also showed that 41 percent of businesses have downsized their existing office space since March 2020, while 51 percent of businesses are “planning to keep office space to allow employees to choose to work fully remotely, indefinitely.”
The authors of the report said the shift to remote work was well underway prior to the pandemic due to improvements in technology and telecommunications. “However, before March 2020, only about 6 percent of U.S. workers did their jobs primarily from home,” the report stated. “That number jumped to one-third of all workers after the pandemic hit.”
The report noted that “what once may have seemed like a temporary way of operating has become permanent.” It’s noteworthy that this shift is primarily with larger companies that have more than 500 employees.
“Our survey found that 45 percent of businesses with more than 500 employees permanently closed all of their office space, while 36 percent closed some of their offices, and 64 percent downsized office spaces that they have kept,” the report stated. “Businesses with 10 or less employees were the most likely to not have closed any office space with nearly half keeping their doors open.”